I saw this on the shelf at Target one day and thought it might be a good contender for a travel battery charger. I’d been using some crappy ones, and couldn’t find an all in one device. Basically, I wanted something that would store two or four AA batteries, provide 5 VCD out, optionally have a flashlight, and preferably charge them from a 5 VCD standard USB port.
This one does all of the above. And does it well.
The construction is rock solid. The door doesn’t come open without some effort, and the body is sturdy. After a month of heavy travel,mine has some scratches, but no cracks or damage.
It stores four AA batteries, and has a removable tray that lets it hold AAA batteries instead. One gripe is that the tray comes out – I’d prefer they have some sort of flip-down spacer that changes the fit. If it can be removed, it will get lost. I’ve standardized on AA batteries, so that’s not a huge deal for me, but it’s still annoying.
The front face has a switch, a status indicator, a bright white LED light, a USB A Female port, what appears to be an EIAJ-01 coaxial power plug, and a USB Mini-B Female port.
- The switch changes the function from off to power out to light. It will recharge itself in any position, but will not power the output port and the light at the same time.
- The indicator uses an intuitive red/orange/green system, and a key is on the back.
- The bright white LED appears to be a standard 1 W white LED. It functions great as a convenient flashlight, and should last for about fifteen hours on a full charge (assuming you have 2500 mAh batteries).
- The USB A Female port (the kind most computers have for inserting devices, for people who haven’t bothered to learn what the types are in the past fifteen years) functions as an output port. It spits out 2.5 W (5 V at 0.5 A, exactly to USB spec) when the switch is in the middle position.
- The coaxial port is for charging. It didn’t come with an external charger, but other goal zero products use 6.5 v with these connectors for the low power interconnections. They make several solar charging mats like the Nomad 7M Solar Panel that use that connector and voltage.
- The USB Mini-B Female port (like you have on your camera or phone, unless it uses the new thin Micro-B standard) is for charging from a USB power source. They lose some points because it’s not standards-compliant – the device is supposed to negotiate before it draws more than 50 mA or so. So if it doesn’t charge from your device, it’s not necessarily your device’s fault. But it’s not like anyone else follows the standards.
It’s a trickle charger, made to work on 2.5 watts input. It will take several hours to charge batteries. That’s inherent to working with low power levels like this. If you want something faster, get a high current quick charger. The auto-off works fine, so you can leave it connected to a charging source.
Oh and it has a neat hook on the back… I have no idea what that’s for.
This meets my criteria for a travel device: compact, uses standard batteries, accepts standard power in, provides standard power out. It’s not fancy, not expensive, and does its thing reliably. If you need power or recharging in a portable platform, this might just be the best option out there.